US Carrier, Carl Vinson, to make historic Vietnam visit in March

It will be the first time a US aircraft carrier has docked in Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam war in 1975

FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2018, file photo, fishermen on board a small boat pass by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier at anchor off Manila, Philippin...

FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2018, file photo, fishermen on board a small boat pass by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier at anchor off Manila, Philippin...

BEIJING (AP) — The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson will reportedly make a historic visit to Vietnam next month as part of the Navy's largest multinational disaster response exercises in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Carl Vinson will be the first U.S. carrier to visit Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, underscoring the new level of cooperation between the former adversaries in the face of China's South China Sea encroachment and other potential threats. Navy officials have declined to give details of the ship's upcoming mission.

The Pacific Partnership 2018 exercises that kicked-off Friday also include the military sealift command hospital ship USNS Mercy, which will visit countries bordering the South China Sea, including Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, according to a news release.

China claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety and has challenged U.S. naval supremacy in the western Pacific.

U.S. officials have said American warships will continue sailing close to Chinese-occupied features without prior notice, placing Washington on a continuing collision course with China's interests.